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The True Blessing of Michigan Hunting-Tom Lounsbury

Tom Lounsbury

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 15:22:12 EST


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        The True Blessing of Michigan Deer Hunting
By Tom Lounsbury

I genuinely appreciate the deer hunting opportunities we are blessed with in Michigan, and I love to participate in all the special and regular seasons. Being allowed to harvest two bucks and five antlerless deer here in the Thumb during this timeframe says it all for me as well and I’m in literal heaven with all the quality recreational time I can spend outdoors (I tell my wife Ginny it is all “work”).
A real bonus for me is the opportunity to be able to harvest two bucks (one restricted to 4 points on one side and the other non-restrictive) in the event I get lucky during the archery season, and thus can still have a buck tag for the firearms season. The reality is that only five percent of Michigan deer hunters will ever fill both buck tags which doesn’t hurt this renewable resource and allows for countless recreational hours for deer hunters afield.
Having bagged a nice 7-pointer with my crossbow during the archery season I was real happy to have a (non-restrictive) buck tag in my pocket when the firearms season opened up recently. I saw several bucks opening day but I get real picky about filling my second tag. This doesn’t mean I’m a trophy hunter, because I’m not. I’m a simple deer hunter who absolutely loves to hunt deer and I don’t like things to end too quickly. The bucks I saw were forks and spikes with the biggest being a basket-rack of unknown points chasing a doe close past me. If somebody else shot these deer that was fine with me because they have a right to their choice as I do mine.
The second morning found me in a ladder-stand attached to a cottonwood in a snarly wetland environment filled with dense willow brush. My chosen firearm for this endeavor was my (Mag-Na-Port customized) Ruger Black Hawk revolver in .45 Colt (this revolver and I are celebrating 40 years together this fall and shooting it is like a natural extension to me). Several antlerless deer approached a nearby pond at first light and I was blessed with the mirror image of the deer on the water while they drank. I patiently waited for them to close the distance which they soon did after wading across the water. With four “doe tags” remaining in my pocket, filling them is a priority because my family truly enjoys dining on venison.
I shot the first doe straight down as it walked by the base of my ladder-stand. The second doe stepped into a small opening in the willows 30 yards away wondering where the shot had come from (a beauty of a ported handgun besides controlling recoil is that deer have difficulty pegging exactly where the shot came from). I shot this deer dead-center in the ribcage and she flipped right over after a short dash.
With two deer down in some nasty cover, I was sure glad my sons were around to lend me a hand in getting matters dragged out. I made a point of developing a limp and complaining about a bad back and as a result I hardly had to lift a finger. It works for me!
The foul weather and high winds on Monday allowed me to rest up a bit and between my sons and I, the family “deer tree” was already pretty full. I’ve never felt it wise to be in the woods when broken tree branches known as “widow-makers” are flying through the air. Calmer weather on Tuesday morning however had me venturing into a dense woodlot in the predawn darkness. The northwest wind was still a bit raw and brisk but didn’t have the gale force intensity of the day before and I was glad to be clad in my Filson wool (camouflage) Mackinaw coat and bib-pants, and I had my hunter orange lucky “Elmer Fudd” cap tied down tight.
My hunting plan was quite simplistic and I found myself kicking the leaves away from the base of a large sugar maple near the top of a hillside in the woods that blocked the wind. I placed my foam butt-pad on the ground and sat down and covered my legs and lower torso with dry leaves that were banked up all around me thanks to the previous day’s high winds. With my back up against the tree trunk I became a part of the natural terrain in a comfortable and rather cozy manner while I waited for shooting light to arrive.
In the gray light of dawn I began making plaintive doe bleats with an occasional tending (young) buck grunts with my H.S. “True-Talker” deer call that allows diversity in various deer vocalizations, something I’ve grown to count on for success in the deer woods. Sometimes calling works and sometimes it doesn’t. First a deer has to hear you and then it has to be in the mood to respond and I have found calling never hurts to try and it is more entertaining than just waiting and watching. Calling adds that sense of anticipation in the event it might work and the fact is a majority of bucks I have harvested have been brought into range by my calling efforts.
On this morning I didn’t have to wait long because within 10 minutes after I let out my first series of calls I spotted the dark form of a large deer moving through the trees and up the hillside in my direction at a fast walk. When I realized his main-beams exceeded his ear-tips I shouldered my cut-down H&R 20 ga single-shot shotgun and followed the buck’s progress with my “ghost-ring” peep-sight and fiber optic green front bead. He was good enough for me and I was certain he was an 8-pointer on my “hit-list”.
As the buck quickly closed the gap I knew he would soon pick up my scent which he did at 60 yards and I had to “thread the needle” so to speak through the cover with my shot. The buck suddenly stopped and threw up his head and looked right at me as I touched the trigger. He was quartering toward me and I hit him in the neck just in front of his left shoulder with the (Foster) slug making an exit out the last rib on the offside.
The results were dramatic and sudden with the buck rearing back into a sitting position and then launching forward into a tree trunk and then falling over, clearly stone dead. I quickly reloaded and kept him covered for several minutes just the same because it is never wise to take things for granted in regards to tenacious whitetails. I then carefully approached him and assured he was indeed dead before grasping the large antler protruding up out of the carpet of fallen leaves to examine his head and pay homage. He was the large 8-point (later aged by the DNR to be three and a half years old) I knew was roaming in this neck of the woods.
I tagged the deer and field-dressed him and pondered the half mile drag uphill through a muddy wheat stubble field. That is when I pulled out my cell phone and called a good friend who might show a little sympathy for me since I had just developed another limp and an aching back.
It worked for me again!

Four year old Reese Lounsbury was on hand to help get his dad Josh's Thumb
5-point buck out of the woods.
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Jake Lounsbury didn't hesitate to harvest this large, plump Thumb doe that
represents plenty of fine venison.
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Tom Lounsbury and the 8-point Thumb buck he called in recently and shot
with his cut-down H&R 20 ga single-shot he calls the "Pug".
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